can’t feel my toes: joe murray on faniel dord, shareholder, stuart chalmers, yol, jazzfinger

September 23, 2016 at 12:20 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Faniel Dord – The Curse Of The Dripping Jaw (CD-r or download, Dante’s Ashtray)

Shareholder – Five Mile Throwdowns (self-released tape or download)

Stuart Chalmers / Yol – Junk Seance (CD-r & collage in decorated envelope, Quagga Curious Sounds, QCS_090, edition of 30)

Jazzfinger – Beachy Head / Moroccan Car Park (D. Harwood Remix) (7″ vinyl in screenprinted cover, Distraction Records, DIST23, edition of 100)

curse

…and here’s another thing.  Cock-punks talk about ‘meaning it’ but the NA-U are well used to full-immersion in their practice.  No-one dials this shit in.  You’re either totally committed or you may as well settle back to watch Oranges Are Not The Only New Black.  Or something.

Here are four examples of total commitment.  Are you sitting uncomfortably?

Faniel Dord – The Curse Of The Dripping Jaw

Faniel Dord kills the song, deletes the long-form drone and brings back the radio play with his utterly bonkers, psychedelic horror noir – THE CURSE OF THE DRIPPING JAW.

It’s a story as old as storytelling itself; the mortal narrator lifts the veil between the two worlds, receives an ancient and evil wisdom and is then cruelly punished for his trouble.  The gods are such dicks yeah?

It’s totally base, crude and infantile, as Dord swoops through a cast of barely comprehensible characters each revealing a grim (and usually dripping) secret.

So far, so Spike Milligan, but what sets Dord firmly in the wonk-camp is his eccentric timing and ‘rude kid’ narrative. Voices speak over each other, interrupt, argue and go off onto muttered tangents.  They lose their script and adopt different accents mid-sentence.  These characters are not so much unreliable as actively confusing and devilishly impish.

And like all good radio plays the incidentals lend an extra layer of gosh.  This being a Faniel-joint, fings get rambunctious and frenzied quickly; the foley work stands proud but with deranged intention, like planting a fresh turd in a gravy boat.  The musical numbers have a twist of the Alan Bishop about them as the spaghetti-western-meets-his-Uncle-Jim vibe informs a couple of tunes or even the warbling of (deep breath) Wings!

If you’re looking for the perfect antidote to po-faced rumble and plinks dial ‘F’ for Faniel and get in touch with your inner-Rawlinson (NSFW).

five-mile

Shareholder – Five Mile Throwdowns

BRONTOSAURUS-MONOLITH- QUIT -MUSIC FROM THE VERY EXCELLENT SHAREHOLDER LURCHES OUTTA MY ‘PHONES TODAY.  TREACLE-THICK AND HOT-SWADDLED IN 50,000 TONNES OF FUZZ AND DISTORTION.  Q:SOUNDSLIKE?  A BLACK WREATH OF A VOICE OFFERS DARK CRITIQUE WITH A POET’S EYE.  SUPER-HEAVY, WITH SERIOUS DAMAGE INTENDED, TWIN GUITARS MAY MOAN, MAY ROAR, MAY MAJESTICALLY IMPLODE – AT ODDS WITH THE WORLD AND AS QUICK AS PLUCKING A DUCK. THE TRAP SET LAYS BURIED DEEP, DEEP, DEEP THEN HOPS FULL-FRONTAL CRASHING AS FLINT ON STEEL (WITH ALL THE IMAGINED SPARKS). MEAT TENDERISER BLUSTER MIXED WITH THE DRUNKS WITH GUNS DEDICATION TO PURE THUDDING REPETITION. SAY IT ONCE, SAY IT AGAIN, KEEP ON SAYING IT.  MOMENTS OF RESPITE ARE SLIM BUT OFFER SOME COLD COMFORT: HUGE CHUNKS OF IT IS MORNING ARE SPECTRAL AND SPIDER-LIKE, MORPHING INTO A GAMELAN CHIMING – A LEAKING BEAUTY.  AN UNEXPECTED MADNESS DELIVERS AN ACCUSATION,

IT’S ALL BECAUSE OF YOU

MAKING STRANGE BEDFELLOWS WITH COLD HOURS, A GENUINE CREEPY FOOLER (GLAD I CAN’T UNDERSTAND A WORD). WHEN A ROUGE BASS NOTE NOSES IN, ALL PINK AND AQUIVER, I WONDER

CAN YOU BE BOTH MATTER-OF-FACT AND IMPASSIONED?

THE SURLY/CONFIDENT DREAMLIKE IS ANTHEMIC TO THE POINT OF FINDING OUT WHERE JIM KERR LIVES, RINGING THE BELL AND THEN KICKING HIM RIGHT IN THE NUTS.  SHAREHOLDER – ALWAYS FILLING ARENAS.

junk-seance

Stuart Chalmers / Yol – Junk Seance

An almost indescribably excellent collaboration from the King of the Loops and the Master of Kinetic Poetry.

The frantic pace and electricity of opener ‘World on Fire’ shakes my varmints like Kid 606 did back in the day when it was acceptable to wear Hi-Tops.  It’s a hyper-real explosion fizzing with extra-strength gristle taking Yol’s scorched-earth screams and Stuart’s Dictaphone frot into strange new territories.

A stunning symbiosis starts to take place.  I’ve always been fascinated by the politics of collaborations; who gives and who takes, where the total becomes more than the sum of its parts, how compromise can open up new avenues of grot.  And here you have two artists seriously leaning-in to each other; the methods start to bind in a ferric DNA with the hoarse throat and metallic tinkle meshing perfectly with the sophisticated Dictaphonics.  Check out the liquid tape-scree (sodium burning bright) and desperate industrial voodoo cures [Editor’s note: typo for ‘curses’?  Don’t care – I’m leaving it in.] of shattered lung on Rusty Rats.

Did you?  Recovered yet?

And those moments just keep coming and coming; ‘Pop Eats Itself’ and ‘Secret EVP Door’ [Editor’s note: my favourite track, astounding] crackle and fizz like blistering paint.  The sound bubbles up with malevolence, rippling and roaring with an evil turpentine stink.  Small moments catch my magpie eyes… is that Leonard Cohen, a castanet, a dropped coin?  Has Yol keeled over and fainted?  Why can’t I feel my toes?

Closer ‘Best Shot’ is like a peak into a fantasy dimension.  Puppet-master Stuart controls a rogue Yol and pits him against the real thing using the in-built slurring qualities of the Dictaphone to mimic and provoke.  It’s a pointed statement, with added whirr… the muscular text smudged into granular sound poetry.

beachy-head

Jazzfinger – Beachy Head / Moroccan Car Park (D. Harwood Remix)

Jazzfinger drill deep into the earth on ‘Beachy Head’.  Smudged groans overlap each other like large terracotta tiles.  The high-tension pings pepper things up.  A forever-murk of old tape gunk, air-to-air recording techniques and telepathic improvisation grease the wheels in ways only Jazzfinger can.

As ever, listening to a Jazzfinger jam, equal and conflicting forces tear at your brain; the urge to submit and go under, drown in the pregnant fullness or treat this with an archaeological bent and carefully sift through the multiple layers, up to the armpits in rubble and soft red dust.

As reviewer I had to flick between approaches to bring you back this missive and found myself spending hours, possibly days putting the needle on and off, on and off, never quite sure if it was night or day, making astral travel a distinct possibility.

The flipside,’Moroccan Car Park’, is an eccentric remix, bold in terms of scope that shimmers from barely-there gossamer tones to full-on horn blasts perfectly echoing the ‘whale talk’ vibe of side A.

With such rich material to work with D Harwood is wise to craft a self-standing structure, distinctly recognisable as Jazzfinger, yet strangely unfamiliar and distant.  This wonderful blend swirls like pungent spice or choking incense, filling the room with deep memory.

Packaging detail: This seven-incher comes in a deluxe package… an eccentric fold out sleeve that nestles the precious wax like a lotus flower.  The dark image is, essentially, blacker than black with a delicious tackiness [Editor’s note: presumably Joe means ‘to the touch’, not ‘cheesiness of design’] and sulphur whiff.  Includes download code too for the ultimate customer service experience.

—ooOoo—

Dante’s Ashtray

Shareholder

Quagga Curious Sounds

Distraction Records

the developing process: chrissie caulfield on chaines

September 20, 2016 at 9:56 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Chaines – OST (poster package plus download, Slip, [SLP017])

cover

My last review, of Furchick’s Trouble with a Capital T, mentioned that I was drawn into that album by a compelling opening track. In contrast I have to admit that the opening track on this particular album did actually put me off it for a few moments. However, persistence is a virtue which is often rewarded.

I encountered Caroline Haines’ music via the Feminatronic group on Soundcloud (which I heartily recommend, by the way) and her excellent track ‘Eraserhead‘ . From this I went to her Bandcamp site to see if she had anything worth reviewing for this blog… she does, readers, she certainly does.

The title track(s) of OST are for a collaboration with a visual artist but I’ve been so engrossed in the music that I haven’t even bothered to see if there is a visual element to the work apart from the prints that come with a tape – I’m really all about the sound, as you might have guessed. ‘OST1’ is a ritornello of noise interrupted by acoustic and electric guitars and industrial samples with the voices of collaborator Mary Stark and others rendered almost indistinct. It is variously terrifying, intriguing and occasionally comic as you never quite get a handle on what is going on. I must have listened to this track ten times or so and it always sounds fresh and new. Hearing it on different speakers or headphones just brings out nuances that you’d missed earlier.

The first track ends with Mary’s voice coherent for the first time and segues into ‘OST2’ where she has much more to say… certainly more that’s comprehensible. Over a guitar and percussion ostinato with occasional backing from what I suspect are the noises of an old-fashioned film projector, Mary talks about her film making in an entertaining and engaging way, including her love for the obsolete film technology which adds so much to the sound of the piece. Between the more normal speech parts we have Mary reciting timing countdowns or ingredients lists from an old-style chemical film developing process. This reminds me so much of evenings spent in my father’s darkroom making black and white and (later) colour prints. I can almost smell those chemicals again, though I’m not sure that’s necessarily a good thing, they were horrible!

‘OST3’ opens with ambient washes of gentle, slightly clipped (in a good way) noise – like wind with bits of smoke in it. Mary then explains more about the haphazard way she produced her first prints in a badly-equipped darkroom, the equipment she uses for her works, and growing up in the North West. As the Bandcamp notes state, this is in some sense a love letter to analogue film – the descriptions and anecdotes presented here are compellingly presented and are integrated really well with the sounds. The way the different sentences are EQed and the reverb on the voice really serve to bring out the messages and turn the disparate parts into a wonderfully coherent whole.

And so back to that first track, ‘Here’, that nearly prevented me from getting further with this wonderful album. It starts with out-of-tune whistling – need I say more? About the only acceptable incidence of any sort of whistling in music, in my opinion, opens Supertramp’s ‘Easy Does It’and after forty years I’m still unsure about that. But once you get past this drunken obstacle the track opens out into something rather lovely and the whistling becomes half-drowned in synth pads and noise. It does work, and the noises at the end close it off well, but I still have trouble with the solo opening. Sorry!

The final track, ‘I Found This’ continues the industrial theme with some great off-kilter rhythms accompanied by indistinct vocals. It breathes in and out like a huge mechanical squeezebox building to gentle and not-so-gentle climaxes that consume you before dropping back to just the vocals and then starting again. This is more of a pure ‘music’ piece than the OST ones, the clanks and string sounds being the main driving force behind it, with the vocals adding a mysterious side-order. These are surely the sounds of human beings subsumed by the machines they are working.

—ooOoo—

Slip

wrapped for winter: luke vollar on nwyvre, watch repair

September 18, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 2 Comments
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Nwyvre – HARMONIC (self-released download)

Watch Repair – The Tidal Path (CD-r, Ono, Apophenia)

Watch Repair – Sea Shanty Township (3” CD-r, Ono, Aquatic)

harmonic

Nwyvre – HARMONIC

YES! Now there’s an enthusiastic start to a review, probably because when I retire to my quarters, put on my exquisite burgundy smoking jacket, pour my self a generous slug of plum brandy and don the headphones it is not THIS that I expect. This is some banging techno brut mate. A quick diversion if you’ll permit: I would suggest that most RFM readers may be familiar with the Editor in Chief’s modus operandi in his midwich guise. All of the sounds summoned from a fairly basic looking metal box, never a great deal of deviation from this set up and why would you when there are seemingly endless nooks and variables to hear, explore and obsess over. Well, Nwyvre sounds to me like midwich if he dusted off his aviator shades and plugged his groovebox synth into the fag lighter of his Ford Capri while hurtling at breakneck speed around estates and country back roads, high on caffeinated drinks and a strong outlaw vibe. Short, sweet and well oiled. Killer.

sea-shanty

Watch Repair – Sea Shanty Township / The Tidal Path

So Watch Repair is the post Nwyre come down back at the shack as your pulse slows and you can marvel at the strangeness of the early hours when most people are asleep. This is an odd creaking kind of half folk music where gestures and understated flourishes on what sounds like a wide variety of instrumentation are left to hover in the air before dispersing and disappearing like smoke. If I were to suggest that it sounds like Gastr del Sol warming up then it would be meant as a compliment. This is not directionless noodling, more a suggestion of a mournful sea shanty obscured by heavy mist. I see a group of friends on a beach in the south of England wrapped for winter. Their smiling faces have no clue of what lies ahead, they are in the moment – happy to be alive, to feel, hear and see the sea, to laugh as they awkwardly traverse the sand dunes, half drunk.

tidal-path

The Tidal Path suggests that I’m not too far off with the coastal analogies and even begins with what sounds like a field recording of a walk on the beach. Having said that, the high pitched caws extracted from a stringed instrument do resemble the sound of seagulls and the gentle woody clunking of said instrument could be your shoes nudging pebbles aside.

By the second track it sounds like pure acoustic guitar played in a prepared fashion as objects are placed beneath the strings to give a metronomic bounce while the player gets busy on every other inch of the thing. Like Derek Bailey discovered incense and grew his hair out.

The final lengthy track starts with what sounds like an autoharp, the shrill pings firing soft petal bullets before the curious rustling and darker hued movement return as if the music is haunted. The soft crackling could be an open fire keeping out the wild weather and the dark night whilst the glow of the embers and the fine malt whiskey keep you in relative tranquility. At this moment you could want for nothing more.

—ooOoo—

Nwyvre

Watch Repair at Ono

Watch Repair on Bandcamp

a stressful night in the bathysphere: joe murray on sindre bjerga, bruce russell, gnarlos, no intention, yol

September 15, 2016 at 12:04 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Sindre Bjerga – For The Automatic People (CD-r, LF Records, LF057)

Bruce Russell / Gnarlos – Ruined Again (12″ vinyl, L’Esprit De L’Escalier, LELE04)

No Intention – Representative Work (tape and zine, spam, spam 17)

Yol – Is it Acceptable? (CD-r, LF Records, LF056)

lf057

Sindre Bjerga – For The Automatic People

I’ve been listening to a lot of Sindre lately.  A damn lake of Bjerga-tronics have I been imbibing.  Morning (Sindre), noon (Bjerga) and night (Sindre again).  Those tape-jaxx interventions and kitchen-sink drones have been both bread and beer to me.

So much Bjerga has been supped I’m starting to look like the Norwegian ambassador himself. See my ‘Sindre-selfie’ for evidence:

self-portrait-as-sindre-bjerga

Diversion innit!  To get you in the mood and all receptive to my reviewing like.

Here comes the rot.

FTAP starts with some seriously munged vocal slurp.  Slow and low it hoists its freak flag and blows goonish raspberries to keep it flapping.

As ever, the pinch is never far from your ears, this time with an extra element of ‘double-singing’ that would make I DM THEFT ABLE widen his eyes and say ‘goop, goop, goop’ from his bristly gob.

From this point in it all gets a bit Philip José Farmer; a dune buggy idles on the sands, erotic-robots squeal with pleasure leaking greasy r/jizz.  Are those tentacles caressing the brushed-steel bodies?  Eek… time to make my excuses and leave.

I spy the spring-loaded ‘Bjerga-ma-phone’ dumbly boinging underneath this radio interference from Mars and can feel the slow creep of bacteria munching through the red sands.  It’s all fizzing crackle (cruck) and blistering sparks (hwunk).

Like a tennis match played with tinfoil equipment there’s a thin swoop and crisp backhand smashing lettuce through a sieve before the tape mush (source: Culver plays The Sweet?) takes over again burying me up to the neck in chatty sound ants.

I’ve never felt so tired I…

…as I awake the sun is starting to set.  I can’t move my head to see but I can bloody feel those robots dragging themselves towards me.

gnarlos

Bruce Russell / Gnarlos – Ruined Again

As warped a slice of wax as you’re going to find this side of tomorrow.

Seymour ‘Gnarlos’ Glass performs a magical work of tape-wonk blending musty sound-ingredients into a fetid whole: marbled like inexpensive brisket. Sections of this side entertain a gentle wobble and circular riffling that’s lifting the side flaps of my cap and inflating my valve. How exhilarating!

Brief mind-pictures?

  • Small mechanical birds mutter brief algorithms.
  • Slow goons argue about magnetics in a variety of future languages.
  • A visit to the All Moscow Dog Show (тяв-тяв)
  • A stressful night in the Bathysphere

Again I’m floored by the rattling squawk of the finch and whirr. It parrots a flywheel that, in turn, scores concentric patterns into the sole of my foot. I can trace them with a sharpened pinkie, mirroring the record rotating nearby in my darkening room.

Confused by the repetitive motion the Gnarlos-sounds sprays from my heel just as clear as from the knocked-off speakers causing a Quadraphonic effect not heard since Tommy pulled back the chromed plunger and let his blind fingers do the talking.

But don’t go to bed thinking this is just an exercise in the knockabout and playful.  ‘The Organ Courier and the Chinese Billionaire’ simmers with such a heavy beauty it’s almost too delicate to bear at times… that’s value for fucking money, eh?

Bruce ‘Dead C’ Russell quotes those fancy-pants French philosophers on ‘No Mean Dub/No Mean Cry’ as he rustles digestive biscuits in an old tin bath… the grimy miner.

Imagine the re-scoring of an Italian horror movie in which they all decide not to go back to the cabin but check out the swamp instead.  Ankle deep in solid water the perfectly represented group watch the fireworks damply explode overhead with a slub, a grobe and a wimpy gnash.

After a while sounds roll backwards, I pick out the Vuvuzela listed in the sleeve notes but also hear something darker…perhaps it’s Chango resplendent in his red and white beads, oiled moustache atop a wet red mouth.  Where’ve you been hiding fella?

In and around my increasingly religious visions the electronics swarm like a high pressure front and dry room recordings, half lecture, half apology, leap from varying fidelity-boards blowing kisses into my crispy ears.

Praise Him!

no-intention

No Intention – Representative Work

Totally beguiling and innocent tape work from Vitrine boss Allen Mozek.

For the pragmatic it’s a tape of domestic psychedelics; poems read by a variety of groovy cats, piano, occasional percussion and glorious tape gunk.

You know the kind of thing.  Lo-fi?  For sure.  But with no actual intention?  Here’s where we have to draw a line in the sand.

For dreamers and lovers this is blissful stuff.  A stream-of-unconsciousness it nudges at the same sleep-centres that pitch the wheel on my nocturnes.  Repetition and repeated themes allow both brain-drift and moments of sharp clarity.  I find myself zeroing in on details… a piano run, a particular condenser mic tone, a twist of unexpected studio panning.

There’s a bustle and busyness to the proceedings.  Short, quick steps clipperty-clop with a deft ‘pocket jazz’ feel.  It’s almost impossible not to get lost in the rattle and hiss, to picture yourself, collar up to keep out the drizzle, dashing between antique shops to keep out of the sudden downpour.

But what works so well is the sense of time travel.  This is undoubtedly made up of recordings made at different times for many purposes and then carefully stitched together, in yet another place and time.  But with an educated editor’s ear goofing on the similarities and differences, the sonic jigsaw soon fits snug and any ragged edges get snipped to fit.

An honorable mention to ‘Tape Op Ex (Four Cartridges)’ that has a European finesse, grand architecture and ruinous fountains, sweeping into a feedback breakdown that could be culled from a retro-BLOWHOLE session.  Damn!

And of course, things end with a sigh, a gasp.  The mechanical click accompanies a ditch-dry Allen,

these are my representative works.

And these works do you so very proud man.

acceptable

Yol – Is it Acceptable?

Yes, always.

Tempting thought it is to submit a two word review to THE BIG HIMSELF [Editor’s note: I would have published it too.] there is so much in these wonderfully rich recordings it would be a crime to short-change you (my dearest of all possible readers) of the fullness my ears have gratefully received from his majestic and most furious Yol-ness.  You feel me?

This collection of recordings sounds very, very live with a clear and achingly honest ambience. Traffic noise, hard brick-reflection and the occasional snippet of audience voice place these as performances or site-specific experiments.

And these urban performance spaces reveal an instantly recognisable landscape.  For me it’s the loading bay behind Cowgate Morrisons; fenced off with razor wire, concrete-grim with 24 hour dust and punctuated with rusty piles of unwanted something.  For you it will be a similarly bleak and underappreciated space.

But in Yol’s hands the sonics kick-off like a glorious one-man Neubauten nursing a Pernod-fulled hangover.

Trucks back-up beeping rudely, the diesel blows gritty chuff making a reet big KOFF, KOFF, KOFF.  Rubble is dragged across a factory floor and metallics cry out, bruised by sharp knuckles.

These are the bass rumbles.

But there’s a balance, a lightness to counteract this darkness – enter the domestic floor percussion.  Your yogurt pots and balti bowls make a brittle clatter that dances brightly and sparkles in the stereo field.

For me it’s the deformation of language that’s absolutely, totally riveting here.  It all starts with what I guess proper-critics would call a vignette. A super-lit and hyper-real world is conjured up in a few brief sentences or words, bold as Japanese calligraphy.  But these words are squashed and stretched in strange and terrifying directions.  Yol circles individual syllables like a vulture, swooping in to tear at a fricative or rip a vowel sound clean out of its meaning-carcass.

Words are shorn of a regular purpose when they are hoarsely barked with a Gobi-dry mouth.  But they land more powerful than ever; stark and isolated.

To my tin ears this plastic language and clatter is seen through a lens of what it means to live in Britain today; a country pulling away from culture and kindness. A country hurling itself into a greedy grab bag for the few and saving the rain-water kebab meat for the rest of us.

And what sound sums up this futility, the almost desolate hopelessness?  Perhaps it’s the lonely squeal of a castor that ends ‘Soz Hard’.

A symphony of petrochemical by-products and constant spiralling pressure.

—ooOoo—

LF Records

L’Esprit De L’Escalier (just a Discogs page – you may have to dig)

Spam (excerpt on Soundcloud, release coming soon)

credit where it’s due: skull mask, neck vs throat and tusk festival 2016

September 2, 2016 at 12:22 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | 5 Comments
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TUSK Festival 2016, 14-16th October, Sage Gateshead

Skull Mask – Alzhared (self-released download)

Skull Mask – Sin Nada (self-released download)

Skull Mask – Aura (self-released download)

NECK VS THROAT VOLUME 3 (self-released CD-r and download)

tusk poster

HOLY LIVING FUCK!!  MIGUEL PEREZ IS COMING TO THE UK IN OCTOBER AND PLAYING AS SKULL MASK AT CAFE OTO IN LONDON AND TUSK FESTIVAL IN GATESHEAD.  CLEAR YOUR DIARIES, BOOK YOUR TICKETS!  BE THERE, BE THERE, BE THERE!!  JESUS FUCKING CHRIST IS THIS FOR REAL?  BLIMEY, FOLKS: IT IS!

*Ahem, OK, deep breath, damp flannel on forehead*

Let’s have a little think about what’s happened.

—ooOoo—

Why are the stamps on post from Hull never franked?  A mystery I pondered as I carefully opened the latest jiffy bag from yol and tipped his letter and a CD-r copy of NvT3 onto the kitchen table.  He wrote:

How are things?  Here is the NVT physical thing, figured you should be one of the first to get one seeing as it’s your fault.

This made me laugh.  To what extent can credit (or blame) be claimed in what this blog refers to as the ‘no-audience underground‘?  Most of the work we cover is the product of the singular vision of artists driven to create on their own, or in small groups, yet the whole thing exists as a (more or less) self-sufficient network.  We are friendly and sociable loners, well-connected outsiders – it’s a satisfyingly odd set up.  To claim credit for the work of others, for making something happen without actually booking the acts, folding the J-cards or whatever yourself, is to place yourself above the milieu.  This doesn’t seem right – I loath writers who consider themselves ‘gatekeepers’, the pretension is nauseating – yet things have happened/are happening partly as a result of radiofreemidwich. It feels a bit wierd.

vol 3

Take NECK VS THROAT for example.  It was perhaps inevitable that compulsive collaborators yol and Miguel would sext up a transatlantic relationship.  All RFM did initially was drunkenly encourage the swapping of numbers.  However, once the first volume won the prestigious Zellaby award for album of the year in 2012 and Vol 2 was released on my own fencing flatworm recordings they have been a house band.  The addition of Joe ‘Posset’ Murray on squigglephonic dictaduties strengthens the RFM connection and makes Vol 3 an even more bizarre experience.  Hilarious and unnerving in turn, like a gestalt switch duck/rabbit picture, this is essential listening and unlike anything else.  If this is my fault, it is in the same sense that the baboon turned inside out by a gone-wrong transporter experiment is Seth Brundle’s fault.

sm

But all this is burying the lead isn’t it?  Check this out from the TUSK festival website (review quote by Joe):

SKULL MASK is Mexico’s Miguel Perez, emitting stream-of-consciousness compositions via steel-strung acoustic guitar, melding with dub and found sound interactions. Residing squarely on the US/Mexico border, Skull Mask came to us via the fevered advocacy of the Radio Free Midwich blog (you all need to bookmark that site when you get home). As RFM describe his sound:

“Miguel Perez … packs his atlas and strolls the deserts of this world (and the next) on the sun-damaged Artificio y Fetiche. The taught and springy acoustic steel-string has a slight reverb warble as Miguel conjures up the skitter of a green lizard’s quick limbs, the poisonous spines of a cactus and the glassy psychedelics found in handfuls of sand.

This is a desert that’s teeming with life, studded with microscopic activity, scuttling and slithering between the bone-dry gullies.”

There are parallels with Sir Richard Bishop but Perez’s approach is more languid, starkly sun-baked and deeply preoccupied with his own journey to wherever he’ll take the guitar and his audience. He comes to the UK for the first time to perform at TUSK.

Wow, ‘influence’, eh?  Some of you may be amused, or rolling your eyes, at how blown my mind is by these circumstances.  Sure, you may think, Rob knows people who know people who all read RFM occasionally.  It’s a small pond so this kind of thing is likely to happen sometimes, right?  It’s also the case that Miguel hasn’t exactly been sitting on his hands waiting for that big break email – he’s the hardest working guy in dronebusiness.  So what’s the big deal?  Well, it’s that the opinions expressed by this blog – alongside the actual hard work of many other people – have led to a commitment to transatlantic travel, to an expenditure in the hundreds of pounds and, most importantly to the opportunity for the ‘scene’ to meet one of its most enthusiastic members in person.  I’m going to shake the dude’s hand for five minutes straight.  I’m going to shake EVERYONE’s hand!

So, feet back on the ground, what should you expect?  Miguel’s Skull Mask project is succinctly described above and plenty of reviews of his releases can be found by clicking on the tag at the top of this article.  With a background in metal as well as improv, Miguel is an exceptionally talented musician and whilst fans of, say, Jon Collin, will recognize the vibe Miguel’s take is uniquely colourful and richly textured.

The three releases listed above are his most recent and representative.  I’d recommend taking these daily, like medicine.  Miguel will be looked after during his brief visit but he will have to meet some unavoidable expenses himself.  Thus, if you can afford to donate a couple of quid, a few euros or dollars for these downloads via his Bandcamp site then I’m sure he would be very grateful – as would I.  If you enjoy RFM then you could consider buying something from Miguel a type of ‘subscription’ to the blog.  Go on, everyone’s got a wierd little amount in the bottom of their PayPal account – give it to him.

This feels like a fresh start.  Those following the blog will know I’ve had a bit of a crisis of confidence which, coupled with a gruelling time in ‘real life’, has kept me quiet and the blog more or less inactive for a few weeks.  My roving reporters have been busy filing copy whilst I’ve been ‘out of the office’ so I’ll try and use this energy to get a bunch of their posts published.  In-between now and TUSK I’m hoping for a flurry of articles.  Can’t let the blog idle now can we?  We’re awfully important, don’tchaknow?

—ooOoo—

TUSK Festival (Miguel plays on the Friday 14th)

Cafe OTO (Miguel plays on Thursday 13th)

Skull Mask

NECK VS THROAT

close to the pylons: joe murray on robin foster, henry collins, leda, arv & miljö, tear fet, troy schafer

August 5, 2016 at 3:41 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Henry Collins / Robin Foster – Spill Lynch Corrosiveness / Frostlike Neighbourly Aversion (CD-r, LF Records, LF050)

Leda – City/Clear (7″ vinyl, I Dischi Del Barone, IDDB010, edition of 200)

Arv & Miljö – untitled (7″ vinyl, I Dischi Del Barone, IDDB008, edition of 200)

Tear Fet – Blabber (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.333, edition of 40)

Troy Schafer – Amplified Double Fiddle (3″ CD-r and pin badge or download, aetheric records)

hcrf

Henry Collins / Robin Foster – Spill Lynch Corrosiveness / Frostlike Neighbourly Aversion  

These two ‘non-guitarists’ play something approaching Kaiser-mash with some extremely damaged fingers.

Two tracks.  One mind/ten fingers a-piece.  You dig?

Spill Lynch yeah!  Guitar-as-you-trucking-lump-it. Totally wrecked non-playing as strings are hammered on and hammered off.  Steel is plucked and pulled and shredded hard with foam mallets.  Rubbery metal is found bounced in the reverse making this a righteous dental dam for pearly whites.

Tiny fists, like Joe Pesci’s ‘pow…ping…pow’, jab into your soft temple raising a bruise and yet… this would be a wonderfully zesty cocktail!  But you add the mangled FX-BOX and goof-timing and you are looking at a particularly sexy beach.  Memory gong ripples out a Daxophone reference but it’s slung as low as a Kev Hopper bassline so figure that captain!

Frostlike yeah! One man spitting canned peas out a tight, puckered gob-hole dribbles cold green bile.  OR has Eddie Van taken the vapours so his ERUPTION is all STAR SPANGLED out a tiny HIWATT about to burst into flames.  It’s like a pissy Morse; a constant chatter of on/off/on/off rattling up through my ribcage and whispering into my fontanel.  It’s machine code on the jibber-jabber somehow rocking a ska rhythm.  It’s barium voodoo and it’s aiming for any hole going.

We Roll tonight to the guitar bite

leda

Leda – City/Clear

Crispy bouncing beats sound like they crept out of Sheffield circa 1979.  A wheexing synth plays a one note melody and twists the pitch up, out of waxy remains, until the thing squeals like a pinched nut.  One dimensional in the best possible way; focused and determined Leda sings a line that blends soft as Egyptian eye shadow.  It does its thing at a totally brisk pace: skip, skip, skipping like a hockey puck over dull scuffed ice.

The flipside proper songs it; imagine shoving a Woodbine into that Vape pen and huffing hard.  Misty organ vamps float like a kite flapping drastically close to the pylons.  Leda sighs as if bad news is arriving soon in a manila envelope.  I’m thinking of Barbara Manning in her total waif days if you’re looking for a mind-crutch.

Wonderfully brief, totally Nu Wave.  Where’s my piano tie dude?

arv

Arv & Miljö – Untitled

The mysterious Arv & Miljö are quite possibly the equally mysterious Matthias Andersson who has jammed a high-quality mic out his neat apartment window to record the big wide world going about its business.

Side A picks up those pesky seabirds all going

CAW CAW SQUEEEEEE CAW

in fine white clarity.  If this was Whitby they’d be fighting over chips but Matthias’ location is totally smorgasbord, all gherkin fresh and sauna-clean toes.

Side B revels in a Swedish downpour. The trebly ‘hiss’ of the rain fills my ears almost whole but gradually subsides into more bassy individual drips (off your peaked cap perhaps) and ends on a fragile bowl ringing making this a super-fucking-classy ride on the vinyl.

blabber

Tear Fet – Blabber

As serious as your life.

This meditation on disease and ultimate loss is pure honest gibber that surfs straight from tragedy.  It’s a pretty unsettling raw disc of vocal jaxx, jammed to tape direct with no discernable dubs or edits.  The 20 minute piece was scored by Fet himself (a Matt Dalby apparently) and then, as the moorings loosen, it breaks free of all reason.

My first few listens marvel at the sheer range of guff coming outta two lips, two lungs and one tongue.

Me?  I’ll carry this like Wisdens… a goddamn almanac of honk.  A how-to guide!

Over the course of the spinning shiney I count the following techniques: slack mouth farts, gulps, wheezing roars, tactile yawns, owl squeaks, slibby gibbers, lip-smacks, jaw creaks, warble and weft, dry huff/wet huff, moans, scones and drones, deep sighs, ribbet-lite, mucus croak, deft saliva manipulation, pinched inhalations, seal barks, wet sucking, coughs (phlegm and tickle), rude burps, careless whispers, dirty slurps, humms, ululation, snivel and whimpers, throat rasp, snivels (without whimpers), throat shred, large cheek inflation, nasal gargles, proper singing, mithering, call and response (solo), repetition and imitation, vibration of fleshy jowls, cavity popping, fake Russian bantz, sinus snort, irregular mucus work, jakey muttering, horse blowing and common or garden slobber. [Editor’s note: Bravo Joe! *claps meatily in approval*]

For students of vocal jizz in all its glorious forms; consider this one essential.

fiddle

Troy Schafer – Amplified Double Fiddle

A tremendous hot spurting event of a record that moves from God-rattling fists to microscopic blossoms bursting.

Mr Troy here has built his own double fiddle, inspired by Aussie out-violinist Jon Rose, and rammed it through all manner of cheap distortion sawing away raising merrie hell.

The horsehair rips up a storm (x 2), the dragging and pushing astringent as a spilled gin ‘n tonic but still fatly full and all encompassing.  Occasionally things fall apart into an elegant digital-ditch or rusty tape hole; all the better to keep things human and sprightly I say!

Oh my sweet Lord!  There’s something wonderfully elemental about the frenzied bowing, the constant car-crash of sound that’s as bright as a spotlight; a pure unfettered stream of energy and information.

The overtones really play nice with my pink ears, especially on the less noisy moments.  The double movement is shaped like slow geography, a gradual denudation of the bristling sonics turning the abrasive into smooth gold teeth.

Hey!  Conventional wisdom loves a crescendo eh?  A simple narrative that leads to the big pay off, the money shot.  But Troy baffles by moving from Piss Superstition-levels of fuckedness to a no-more-than slightly water-damaged scrape over the course of this beautifully direct record.  The arc in reverse.

I’m so keen you hear this I checked with aetheric and blimey… it’s sold out at source.  Click the download my beauties!

—ooOoo—

LF Records

I Dischi Del Barone

Chocolate Monk

aetheric records

my grapes are in the freezer, i’m not sure why

July 29, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Posted in blog info, musings, no audience underground, not bloody music | 3 Comments

grapes of sloth

Oof.  Tired.

Y’know those rare days when it is so hot that the only possible topic of conversation is ‘how hot it is’?  Well like that but replace ‘hot’ with ‘tired’.

So tired that I mix up different presenters on the CBeebies channel and alarm my three year old son by exclaiming:

Blimey! That lass has grown a new arm!

So tired that I can only marvel, a hapless spectator, as a single flight of stairs proves a challenge to my trembling knees.

So tired that I put the grapes in the freezer and am bewildered to find them, rock-fucking-solid, the following morning.

So tired that all music becomes a grey and undifferentiated mass, the prospect of which just makes me want to… sleep.

Yeah: oof.

Readers may have noticed a slow down in posts of late.  This is due to your humble editor enduring a bad attack of the one-damn-thing-after-anothers.  Long term followers may worry that my depression is returning but, mentally at least, I seem as impervious as a concrete rhinoceros.  It’s ‘just’ ‘real’ ‘life’, the demands of which have brought on a mild, music-related existential crisis and have, until now, not afforded the time to think about it.

On the face of it, all is barrelling along very nicely indeed.  I’ve been massively impressed with Clan RFM this year and the terrific projects my comrades have been involved with: Chrissie’s album with Helicopter Quartet, Joe’s unhygienic but effective finger-in-every-pie creative strategy, marlo’s participation in and championing of the Extraction Music event/comp, Luke’s mad tape on ultimate outsider-art label Cardboard Club, the awe-inspiring line-up gathering for Sof’s Tor Fest (alas, I won’t be there – I’m cashing in all the husband-points I’ve collected to go to TUSK and hang with Miguel later in October) – to name but a FEW.  That any of them has managed to write anything for l’il ol’ RFM boggles the mind.

And me? Yeah, my dinky CD-r on Bells Hill has been well received, my ideas have been discussed in the ivory towers of academia and I am now the owner of two T-shirts commemorating events at least partly inspired by my writing.  No biggee.

The only problem is that I can’t seem to listen to music.

It’s odd – throughout my life as a serial obsessive I’ve spent three or four years each on various nerdish pursuits (go on, ask me about textual variations in the numerous editions of Philip K. Dick’s The Unteleported Man a.k.a. Lies Inc.  Err, no, on second thoughts, don’t) before losing interest and moving on, but music has always been exempt from this pattern before.

What’s happening?  Despite the ridiculous tiredness, my concentration span hasn’t entirely left me – for example, I got through over twenty hours of podcasts about the horrors of the World War I recently (yes, that was what I was doing instead of listening to your tape).  My sense of humour may have darkened but I’m maintaining a jaunty-ish Twitter presence (even if the rest of my correspondence is for shit).  I’ve even tried dropping the noise and looking elsewhere.  A few weeks ago I was told off for declaring 6 Music ‘unbearably smug’ so I turned it on, listened to three minutes of a string quartet covering ‘Kashmir’ by Led Zeppelin, and turned it off again.  The prosecution rests.  1Xtra is a lot more exciting but the playlist system makes it impossible to listen to for any length of time (or at the same time each day – ‘Skwod‘ soundtracked the washing up for a week, it’s great but…).  Experiments with YouTube, downloading mixes, internet radio and the like have had inconclusive results.

So what now?  My apologies to those who have sent music or are expecting emails – I’ll do what I can.  I have posts lined up from Chrissie, Luke and, inevitably, Joe so RFM won’t be entirely silent whilst I figure this out but, with the pile of stuff for review at record levels and visitor stats stalling, I wonder if you lot have any advice.

Any ideas as to why my grapes are in the freezer?

unteleported

—ooOoo—

a quivering lake of iron: joe murray in the invisible city: stuart chalmers, yes blythe, black thread

July 6, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Stuart Chalmers – Imaginary Musicks Vol. 5 (tape, Invisible City Records, ICR22, edition of 50 or download)

Yes Blythe – Arieto (tape, Invisible City Records, ICR21, edition of 50 or download)

Black Thread – Seeping Pitch (tape, Invisible City Records, ICR20, edition of 50 or download)

mucks

Stuart Chalmers – Imaginary Musicks Vol. 5

The King of the Loops is back with another instalment of his magical Imaginary Musicks collection.  Whilst recent Chalmers releases have been brimming with that space-age bachelor-pad sparkle this tape delves into a fascinating pop direction, making me think about folk like Talk Talk and The Associates for the first time in a decade.

What I liked at the time about those mid-80’s chin-strokers was they brought clever (but rarely clever-clever) themes and textures into a mighty pop tune; combining pre-millennial angst and longing with something the milkman could whistle.  No mean feat, eh?

And Mr S Chalmers is bringing this high-concept dance-ability back to my cheap-o stereo with little more than the contents of a reusable canvas shopping bag: 3 cassette tapes, pedals, synth and Tascam 4 track.

But don’t get the idea that this is in any way lightweight.  Check out the goat-herder playing solo Dicta-mung on ‘Brute’; the beasts chew contentedly, deconstructing an orchestra around a close-miked baritone sax.  Or that nagging, insistent lop-sided beat that’s half Wu Tang and half Lewis Taylor’s ‘Bittersweet’ named ‘Harbinger’.  Side one closes with ‘Warped’ (yeah… that title just had to happen) as a clutch of classical guitar notes get dragged back and forward across the tape head whipping up a quivering lake of iron.

Weepy piano tones shimmer all over ‘Nightscape’, whipping out a Kenny G for a couple of mordant moments that almost suggests Stuart is a fretless bass solo away from an ECM recording contract!

We dig deeper still on ‘Gothic’ (a padded envelope of volatile lady-squeal to be held in ginger paws) and ‘Psychosis’ (radio waves dotted with gritty human endeavour – a history of the world in realtime) to end on the heavy-tape heavyweight ‘Vista’ a masterclass of pregnant pause and elegant New Age smear.

The stoner pace and 3D sound mushrooms make side two as heady as an illicit joss-stick burning down to its thread core in my teenage bedroom.

OK you crossword fans.  Take the ‘U’ out of Stuart and you are left with a START!  Action is calling.  Put down that greasy pencil and dial up some Chalmers therapy.

arieto

Yes Blythe – Arieto

Listening to Yes Blythe; sight unseen, un-googled and without any background braindumps I’m inclined to place them in the Northern European tradition of Scandinavian analogue throb.

The pulsating synth/electronics are pensive antiques and wheeze with an ääkköset limp. It’s clean and pure as wood-panelled sauna-life followed by a snowy thrashing with birch branches.

But of course, I’m wrong, wrong, wrong.  Hailing from damp Manchester Callum Higgins seems to be Yes Blythe in its foggy entirety and here he presents two side-long pieces that play with space and time.

‘Tonal’ (side one) is pretty skunked-out, man; like the heaving of a giant’s shoulders as he chokes down a massive bong hit.  The vibrations extend out beyond the body and infect the detritus of the afternoon: the table a riot of glasses, cassettes leaping free from their cases, glossy magazines splayed on the sofa, half-read, paper legs akimbo.

Slight and delicate clicks keep a lazy time, stretching and contracting, across the occasional soft shudder from a groaning brass gong.  Smoke forms a flexible membrane that hangs across the room at chest height, the sun picks out one thousand motes, an everyday miracle revealed.

‘Tønal’ (side two) takes two notes snipped from the ghost of a Rhodes piano and plays them back into a busy restaurant.  Diners dine as cutlery clicks pepper the mix and conversation links the condiments. Oil and bread rattle, eyes meet and there is a pause… hearts interlock.

The night progresses and the twin notes slowly bounce off each other with no diners to observe. The sound plays for its own amusement as bodies twist in the sheets.

Minimal psychedelic?  Oh Yes Blythe!

pitch

Black Thread – Seeping Pitch

Just a thought…

For many N-AUndergrounders the release you hold in your hand and wrap your ears round is often the result of months of work and years of practice.  But despite the hours that go into that tape, CD-R or download it is rarely a final statement.

In fact one of the key signifiers of N-AU activity is the restless work-in-progress nature of what we do.  Those tapes just keep on coming.  And why?  Because there is more to uncover, more to explore…the individual idea seam may be heavily mined but the practice is part of the work; the work becomes the practice.

Black Thread, another new name on me, is unusual in that it feels fully realised and complete; a perfect string of polished beads.

Xangellix strides into the back room of a Working Man’s Club (Spennymoor circa 1987).

He throws his cape to one side and sits regally at the club synth. Plump fingers pump the keys releasing grainy wafts of melancholic ‘huhhgghh’.

Drinkers drain pints and slow light breaks through the grimy window.  Sound wraps like a shroud around the disassembled crowd.

It’s like layers of electronic silt being deposited on the sea bed

one drinker squawks guiltily as he nurses his half of Peculiar Brew.

Another lifts his cap and hisses through teethless gums,

Foddle! I’m picturing gases rolling and churning through a clay pipe. They fill each cavity with the sound of damp longing.  It’s fair set off my shrapnel ache here,

and he points a withered finger at his thigh.

 Whippets moan in their sleep. It sounds like they whisper

audio Soma

through their narrow jaws as Xangellix plays on.

Boards of Canada lurk outside with a Dicta lifting new sound-cobbles for their witchy releases. The cads!

The Meat Raffle sweats in the corner wrapped in bleeding cellophane. As the final powerful chords fade into the mould-scented mist Xangellix notices the red stain on the lino.

Schoof

he offers as a commentary and strides out, an engagement at The Top Hat beckons.

—ooOoo—

Invisible City Records

stretch out the ermine: joe murray on dan melchior, arturas bumsteinas, bas van huizen, jake blanchard

June 29, 2016 at 1:01 pm | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Dan Melchior – Seaslime (CD-r, Chocolate Monk, choc.336)

Arturas Bumsteinas – Organ Safari Lituanica (CD, Intonema, int019, edition of 200)

Bas van Huizen – Waanzintraan (CD, Moving Furniture Records, MFR032, edition of 200)

Jake Blanchard – Shade (lathe-cut vinyl, Was Ist Das? / Tor Press, first edition of 30, second edition of 20 or download)

seaslime

Dan Melchior – Seaslime

Total goose-work and tape-munch.

In parts, it’s throbbing synth and cut-ups that are, in the best possible way, all over the fucking shop.  Grunt speech gets all wrapped and folded so the vowels come out backwards/sideways.  There’s some nice radio interference and guitar (?) played with cheesy feet.  Nuf said?

But the main thread seems to be ‘no thread’; logic takes a holiday and the unconscious mind takes over.  Dan talks of…

the ebb, flow and convergence of sound/noise/information that the human receptor experiences when passing through the urban (specifically) grotto

OK… I’ll take that signpost and waltz merrily through this bohemian neighbourhood.

It’s dandy of course with ripe colours and complex shapes vying for my mallow eyes.   But what I like most is the low-moaning-multiple-vocal-drone that peppers this steak and opens ‘Seaslime Part Two’.  Thick slices of

ohhhh

and

ahhhh

are piled high.  Conjure up a trio of backing singers on mogs trying to drown out Tin Turna or one of them turkeys.  Got it?  That’s wor Dan!

Not so much the dainty Faberge egg; more a Kinder Surprise stuffed with psychic confusions.

arturas

Arturas Bumsteinas – Organ Safari Lituanica

Three wonderfully rambling organ recordings that wander between full-blown religious ecstasy and porridge-fingered fumbles.

Previously it was Ligeti’s Volumina that set my personal benchmark for Organ-oddity.  I’m no organ aficionado, see, so I have to rely on the helpful sleeve notes to read that these haunting recordings are captured, field recording style, in a variety of Lithuanian locations.

But this doesn’t seem to be an act of UNESCO-sanctioned preservation.  It sounds more like, with the greatest respect, a group of goofs (like me… like you) getting their grotty mittens on the thick ivories and making up gaseous routines just for the jaxx of it.

It’s a truly glorious, immersive event.  At times I feel Arturas’ hand gently twisting in a shadow of reverb but mostly it’s the overlaying of short lyrical pieces played on variety of organs to create a much longer whole.

So, from steam powered fairground calliope to massive church-lungs; from street corner grinder to experimental pipe deconstruction my cloth ears are picking up ‘in the moment’ experiments and cul-de-sacs.  You’ll get a straight run at one idea (forearms on upper keyboard) single note squeals on the lower or a finger-jarring arpeggio; then deep boom and lyrical honk – the sustained drones with one hand and spidery exploration with the other.  At points the tones are working against each other howling at the edge of the wind, coupled with tiny metallic bells.

Lovely though this breathy miasma is you’d be right in asking,

Wot… just blessed organ jaxx for over an hour?  Count me out fella!

But what you’d be missing is the ‘lostness’ the feeling of being tossed into a sea of huff, powerless in the current.  Not to get too hot in these shimmering pages but it’s a submissive act of listening that I’m riffing on right now.

And… as an extra bonus fondle there’s an exquisite hiss and click to these recordings.  Frenzied organ-ing comes with the occasionally ‘clunk’ of a dropped prayer book or rubber plimsoll squeak; the cluttering mechanics of pulleys and foot pedals that make a brittle accompaniment.

There’s a story about Cecil Taylor (or Sunny Murray or Ornette Coleman) where some guy asks him to sit in on the bass during a smoky after-hours jam.  The dude says,

I don’t play bass, man

which is exactly the right approach when dealing with a jazz-colossus.  Yeah…compared to you I don’t ‘play’ anything.  But this was not just a cautious piece of self-depreciation.  The guy couldn’t play a note and bent Cecil/Sunny/Ornette’s form and chops up like a crushed stubbie.  Like Cecil/Sunny/Ornette said, this cat tested him in ways none of the ways a schooled player would [Editor’s note: yeah, this story sounds familiar – anyone got a citation?].

Listening to this ghostly honk is testing my improv-worn ears in the same way!

bas

Bas Van Huizen – Waanzintraan

My good gosh!  I’ve not heard a racket like this for years.  Never a clubber I took my rave-powders seated in a comfortable armchair, headphones on, twisting my DNA to Autechre and the like.

It seems like so long ago but Bas Van Huizen transported me back to that armchair (long since unstuffed and burned for firewood!) as quick as a wink.

Not saying this apes any of those hollow-cheeked rascals with their granular glitch.  But this has that similar heady rush, like a powerful jet of silicon/seawater mix, spraying over the dancefloor in a weighty arc and into the ruined back street behind the club.  It’s littered with rusty junk and piles of broken brick and that’s just fine by me.

These excursions are uneven in length adding further angularity.  You’ve just got your head round something like ‘Jichtjager’ (explosive contact-mics swimming in restaurant grease. I’m busting sick moves (in my head) as each concussive bolt whacks my ear drum) or ‘Stoppermot’ (smeared orchestra pit confined to petri dish, each bacterial horn and violin grows mutated limbs to blow and bow in erratic timings) when another jam comes along and buffers your fluffer.

Take ‘Veldverachter’ for example… the sonic equivalent of ripping off a manky plaster, bath-moulded to your ankle. Ouch!

The longer pieces (our title track for instance) are no place for napping though as ideas are burned through at dizzying speed.  Channelling my inner-Goolden I’m getting, iron ravens sarcastic caw-caw, the static fizz of turned milk and clouds alive with electric shrimp.  But the extra time gives Bas a chance to stretch out the ermine and get fucking regal man.  Opening credits of Blade Runner regal.

To put it another way this is the rice-shaped sliver of the Venn diagram where intense pressure meets slick humidity.

So get boiled brothers & sisters.

shade

Jake Blanchard – Shade

Watch out lightweights, there’s super-heavy intention on these five tunes.

Multi-talented Jake’s colourful designs have graced poster, book, beer bottle and even a skateboard or two.  But today the easel is packed down and beret thrown to one side as a musical outing is on the agenda.

Things start with the lengthy reed-breath-piece ‘Submerged’, all Conrad-esque drone shimmering like celestial orbs, gravity surfing in warp space.

‘Unmarked’ mimics Rodger Daltry’s speed-mod stutter with some chopped ‘thug guitar’ and gritty slide all taking off into the hard desert sky.  But despite the groaning blues this is truly music to build magnificent pyramids to.

Wobble-out a Saz vibe as ‘Pollination’ meshes several Middle Eastern cultures and runs them through a Copycat (or something) to create a wet-lipped smacking and the kind of unhinged fretboard gymnastics Richard Bishop would highlight in orange marker pen as Rem-fucking-betika.

This Greek 3rd Man theme continues on spy-thriller ‘Ill Advised’, kooky-keys rattle among plates of fresh octopus and we get brought back, full circle for ‘Stoney Nova’, a drone piece as soul-mirror.  Ghostly reflections make a flat glassy image repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, re peat, repea  t, re  pe at, repe   at, re peat, r epeat, rep eat, repea     t, rep   eat, r ep  eat, r e  p   ea   t, re     p       ea     t, r   e   p    e    a    t,            r       e          p             e                 a                    t                                                  and        r                                            e                                                 p                                                                    e

—ooOoo—

Chocolate Monk

Intonema

Moving Furniture Records

Jake Blanchard via Tor Press

Jake Blanchard via Bandcamp

speechless: on not writing about taming power and ashtray navigations

June 21, 2016 at 11:55 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , ,

Taming Power – Selected Works 1996-97 (7” vinyl, Early Morning Records, EMR 7” – 001, edition of 100)

Taming Power – Three Pieces (10” vinyl, Early Morning Records, EMR 10” – 015, edition of 111)

Taming Power – Six Pieces (10” vinyl, Early Morning Records, EMR 10” – 016, edition of 110)

Taming Power – Twelve Pieces (10” vinyl, Early Morning Records, EMR 10” – 017, edition of 525)

Ashtray Navigations – A Shimmering Replica (12” vinyl LP plus CD, VHF, vhf#138)

Ashtray Navigations – Ashtray Navigations presents The Mechanical Abrasions Of (volume one) (CD-r, Memoirs of an Aesthete, moa1-2016, edition of 100)

Ashtray Navigations – Ashtray Navigations presents The Mechanical Abrasions Of (volume two) (CD-r, Memoirs of an Aesthete, moa2-2016, edition of 100)

Ashtray Navigations – Lemon Blossom Gently Pixelating In The Breeze (CD-r, Memoirs of an Aesthete, edition of 100)

a shimmering replicathree

Regular readers will know of the respect I have for the work of Askild Haugland.  Click on the ‘taming power’ tag above and you will find a guest post by Neil Campbell introducing him to me and thus, inadvertently, to radiofreemidwich, a catalogue annotated by Askild himself (with ordering details – Taming Power and his label Early Morning Records have virtually no online presence) and a bunch of reviews in which my usual tools of swagger and whimsy fail to express just how special this music is. The world described is unique, the methods used are simple but unfathomable, the results achieved are various angles on perfection.

Regular readers will also know of the swooning love I have for the music of Ashtray Navigations. Click on the ‘ashtray navigations’ tag above and you will find thousands of words telling stories of the deep blue interstellar Buddha, of edible sound, of military machinations, of 1960s gangsters yachting off the Amalfi coast – my usual tools of swagger and whimsy singing like a wind chime made of knives. The reason I write is, to a large extent, to describe the kind of life-affirming, psychedelic synaesthesia evoked by Phil Todd and Mel O’Dubhshlaine. No one does it better.

So why have these releases been languishing undescribed, many months after being received here at Midwich Mansions? Partly for the same reason a tweet is easier to write than an email, which in turn is easier to write than a letter, which in turn is easier to write than a proclamation painted in foot high letters with hand-ground pigment on a chalk-white cliff-face. When something feels important and it is clear I don’t have the time or energy to do it justice, it is easy to put it to one side and wait for the ‘perfect time’ which, of course, never comes.

My silence on the matter is partly fear of failure too. I realise that writing about music is, ultimately, a futile business (‘dancing about architecture’ and all that) which is why I’ve never done it. What I do is write about the response I have when listening to music – that ‘once removed’ step acknowledging the subjectivity of the exercise and freeing me from the obligation of ‘judgement’. Ugh, nothing more tiresome than some bollock awarding marks out of ten on Pitchfork is there? Still, I appreciate this ‘have cake/eat it’ stance has its limitations and the artifice tends to collapse entirely when confronted with music that I love so sincerely, that I engage with so wholeheartedly. I have to patch my burst ego and re-inflate it with a foot-pump before my wittering seems anything other than utterly unnecessary. In short: faced with the releases listed above what the hell am I going to say?

Thus this time I’ve decided against wittering and I’ve put swagger and whimsy to one side. Instead you’re getting an illustrative anecdote at second hand. The other day I was listening to the episode of Adam Buxton’s podcast in which he interviews Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead. They chat and stroll around Lyon the afternoon before the band play a show in the Roman amphitheatre there…

(an aside on Radiohead: I was dismayed to see the outburst of snarkery on social media that accompanied the release of their recent album. I’m not a huge fan but recognise they are an important band and have created some very fine music indeed. Plenty of their output is strange and interesting but is also engaging enough to have acted as a ‘gateway drug’, ushering thousands of kids into more esoteric galleries. I also admire the ‘have cake/eat it’ relationship they have with corporate music: being part of it but largely, it seems, on their own terms. To those who feel the urge to take the piss I say: fuck off. There must be some Velvet Underground box set you could wank over instead. Go peel your banana.)

…and at one point their conversation is interrupted by a fan. The guy is a perhaps a little earnest, but not at all creepy, and wishes to express how important the music of Jonny’s band is to him. He says the same thing several times, phrased slightly differently each time, like we do when excited and tongue tied and Jonny thanks him. Adam takes a picture of the two of them together after the inevitable struggle to make the camera work. I was touched by Jonny’s graciousness but found the slight catch, the slight warble in the fan’s voice instantly recognizable and, to my surprise, profoundly moving. I found myself welling up. Yes, I thought, yes – that is what it is like. To be so taken with something, for something to mean so much to you, that its presence makes rational expression almost impossible. So, with respect to that Radiohead fan in France, here is my complete review of four releases by Taming Power and another four by Ashtray Navigations:

This music is so, so important to me.

I’m not being flippant. What I’m saying – arms outspread, nervous (but huge) grin on my face – is that if you have any interest at all in the stuff covered by this blog then you must investigate Taming Power and Ashtray Navigations. It’s wonderful.  This music, and the reaction it provokes, is the reason this blog exists. Seriously, how can you not be intrigued by something that leaves a notorious blabbermouth like me speechless?

—ooOoo—

RFM post containing Early Morning Records catalogue with ordering details – please email Askild before sending money.

Ashtray Navigations

(Taming Power picture nicked from Uncle Mark’s proper review over at the ever-wonderful Idwal Fisher blog.)

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